Virginia B. Wood dishes up all the event news you can stomach, in this week's "Food-o-File."
While thousands are attending the final two days of SXSW events, the hardworking folks from the Green Corn Project (249-3171, www.greencornproject.org) will be participating in their third annual Spring Dig-In this weekend, March 15-16. Volunteers will assist 10 needy families in double digging organic vegetable gardens. As always, GCP will provide volunteers, materials, and instruction in deep soil preparation, intensive planting, the use of open pollinated seeds, and composting. All volunteers must register prior to the event, and lunch will be provided both days. For more information and/or to volunteer, contact GCP by phone or via their Web site... On Tuesday, March 18, at 7pm, Asti Trattoria & Wine Bar (43rd & Duval, 451-1218) will host a Texas Wine Dinner and booksigning with Chronicle wine writer Wes Marshall, author of The Wine Roads of Texas (Maverick Publishing, $18.95), the very accessible and user-friendly guide to all of Texas' wineries. Vintners from Becker Vineyards, Spicewood Vineyards, Flat Creek Winery, and Llano Estacado Winery will be pouring their wines paired with a specially designed four-course meal. The cost is $70 per person, including a signed copy of the book. Reservations are necessary... In other local book news, frequent Chronicle contributor Mick (Jon M.) Vann and his co-author Dr. Art Meyer finally received the first copies of their book The Appetizer Atlas: A World of Small Bites (John Wiley & Sons, $40) last week. Look for a review and excerpt of The Appetizer Atlas in these pages sometime in early April, and we'll keep you posted on the reception and booksigning we're planning with BookPeople to honor the accomplishments of writers Wes Marshall, Mick Vann, and MM Pack early this summer... And speaking of books we love, fans of Mississippi author Jill Conner Browne's Sweet Potato Queen will be thrilled to note the arrival of The Sweet Potato Queens' Big-Ass Cookbook and Financial Planner (Three Rivers Press, $13.95). Once again, the founder and supreme Boss of the Sweet Potato Queens provides hilarious insights into aging gracefully in the Queenly life. She also includes profiles of the original Queens (doctors, lawyers, interior decorators, restaurateurs) and some of their key supporters in the city of Jackson, Miss. And there are plenty of artery-clogging recipes for dishes the Queens love to eat. Browne's book comes just in time to promote the 21st annual Mal's St. Paddy's Day Parade, a bonafide tourist event that now attracts thousands of Queen wannabes to Jackson every March for a weekend of parties, balls, and brunches. Since I'm always too busy with SXSW to even think of going to Jackson for the big parade, I've started lobbying Central Market, BookPeople, and Jill Conner Browne herself about planning an appearance for her here in Austin. Her books have made me laugh till I almost fell out of the bed, and after reading them, I'm sure the Boss Queen would feel right at home in Austin -- she loves good music, knows how to party, lives for spicy foods and margaritas. So, I'll keep you posted if it looks like we're able to make it happen, and in the meantime, get a copy of the book for yourself and all the women you know who appreciate a good laugh.
Sign up for the Chronicle Cooking newsletter
If you want to submit a recipe, send it to email@example.com